Commentary: Support Your Local Grocery/Food Delivery Person

Are you sick of reading stuff about the novel coronavirus called COVID-19? I sure am.

Are you sick of what's being done – or, not done – about it by the powers to be? Are you sick of people losing their minds over overstocking toilet paper, while food shelves are trying to keep up with people in need during these interesting times? Rather, about restaurants closing their dining areas and resorting to counter pick-up or delivery?

Or, distancing yourselves from your friends and family because of self-imposed quarantine, even if you don’t have this virus?

We’re fantasizing about scenes from "Contagion," "Soylent Green," and "1984." And, this has got to stop!

Yes, the cases of COVID-19 are rising. As long as you’re applying common sense in your lives, you should be fine, right?

There are some successes coming from this situation. For example, let’s take delivery for a moment. Grocery stores, department stores, and restaurants offer options to bring their goods and services to your home. Right now, these delivery services are getting an uptick in business from the growing number of us who are now working from home.

The examples I know are from the Twin Cities, but I’m sure these are applicable in your neck of the woods. One, there are several app/web-based restaurant delivery services, such as Doordash, Bite Squad, Uber Eats, and Grubhub. These companies should be experiencing growth in bringing home restaurant-quality food to your doorstep.

I have used these services before, and they have been hit or miss. Sometimes, orders have been hung up at the restaurant waiting for a driver to get to the house with it. I had a few drivers with shotty vehicles pull up with my order. The last one had a Toyota Corolla that was completely crapped out – broken windows, resting, loud exhaust, etc. – I was shocked that my order made it to my home.

There are a lot of drivers who are not like this. Some have relatively new vehicles that do the job without fail. But, I know this industry can do better.

There is always pizza, Asian, and other restaurants that have their own delivery services. Singapore-based Sarpino’s have begun a contact-less service where you can specify to just drop your food at your doorstep and you’ll just pick it up. Our friends at Joey Nova’s in Tonka Bay, Minnesota also instituted their own curbside pickup service, along with maintaining their delivery services to the Excelsior area.

For grocery deliveries, I have been using HyVee's Aisles Online for almost a year. They used to have delivery direct from each store, but they switched to a regional distribution center for all Aisles Online transactions. The West Des Moines-based supermarket chain has been pretty efficient in delivering the next day. However, this health situation has pushed HyVee to their limits with deliveries that have been booked up for days or with no time slots available at all.

As sort of a challenge, my roommate and I tried to order groceries online. Since HyVee was booked out for many days, she was able to get her groceries through Amazon Fresh in just two. It pays to have a Prime account, I suppose.

San Francisco-based Instacart also serves to deliver groceries and other goods from a wide variety of stores. In the Twin Cities, that would mean deliveries from Cub Foods, Costco, Aldi, Fresh Thyme, and Petco – to name a few. Birmingham, Alabama-based Shipt also serves to deliver from stores, such as Target, CVS Pharmacy, Office Max/Office Depot, and so forth.

So, how's business? One driver for an app/web-based delivery service told me that business has been "booming" because of the self-quarantine and social distancing we’re all practicing. Perhaps this is a good thing for those working in these sectors of the gig economy.

This is an interesting point to make. The people doing your deliveries through these tech-based companies – Uber Eats, Doordash, Instacart, and so forth – are part of an economy that is being threatened in at least a couple of states. If the impositions that passed through the California legislature come into play nationwide, these delivery people will be highly disrespected by these companies. That is, of course, they are hired as employees with benefits and so forth. I have not heard much about any such employment situation out of these companies.

By the way, some of us in the automotive media business is part of the gig economy. Something to think about…

Understand that some of us may be out of work because your business has shut down due to this health situation, maybe you could make some extra money by jumping on board these app/web-based delivery services? Or, work with an existing restaurant – maybe, your restaurant – and deliver for them?  That might tie you over, if you live in a place where unemployment benefits have not been extended for those laid off from health situation-related shutdowns.

Granted, most places are saying that they could reopen by the end of this month or the week after. But, what if this health situation continues to affect our lives further? I cannot predict the future, but at least we know that these businesses exist to help us through these times by providing expanded convenience at your doorstep.

And, yes, these drivers and remote shoppers can use your support. Use their services, please? They could make your new temporary work-at-home routine a huge relief to your soul.

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